A colleague of mine told me a few minutes ago that Google announced it will start selling ebooks through Google Book Search today. I did a preliminary search for Mark Twain’s authorized autobiography here and sure enough, there is a large button that says Buy Now.
You may not sell, rent, lease, distribute, broadcast, transfer, or assign your rights to the Digital Content or any portion of it to any third party except as expressly permitted by Google. Provided, however, that nothing in the Terms of Service shall prohibit any uses of Digital Content that would otherwise be permitted under the United States Copyright Act. In addition, you may not remove any watermarks, labels, or other proprietary notices on or in the Digital Content. If you have multiple Google accounts with different user names, you may transfer Digital Content out of an account and into another account, provided you are the owner of each such account and provided Google has enabled a feature of the Service allowing such transfers. You acknowledge and agree that Google may place limits on the number of Devices and/or software applications you may use to access Digital Content and that such limits may be set by Google at any time at Google’s discretion. You acknowledge and agree that Google may record and store the unique device identifier numbers of your Devices in order to enforce such limits.
What is most relevant to libraries? “If you have multiple Google accounts with different user names, you may transfer Digital Content out of an account and into another account, provided you are the owner of each such account and provided Google has enabled a feature of the Service allowing such transfers.”
It appears that Google is aware of the needs of individuals to transfer books from personal devices. Hopefully they will be open to talks with libraries who wish to share books with their users for short periods of time–or perhaps to have institutional logins which will allow all affiliated users with authentication to read (and one day download?) the content.